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Hard Inquiry


A hard inquiry, also known as a hard credit check, is a review of an individual’s credit report by a lender or financial institution to assess their creditworthiness. It typically occurs when a person applies for a loan, mortgage, credit card, or other forms of credit. Hard inquiries may slightly reduce a person’s credit score and remain on their credit report for two years.


The phonetic spelling of “Hard Inquiry” using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is:hɑrd ˈɪnˌkwɪri

Key Takeaways

  1. A hard inquiry, also known as a hard credit check, is prompted when you apply for a new loan, credit card, or other forms of credit, and it authorizes a financial institution to thoroughly review your credit history.
  2. Too many hard inquiries in a short period can negatively affect your credit score, as they signal to potential lenders that you may be taking on too much debt or struggling with financial instability.
  3. Hard inquiries generally stay on your credit report for two years but typically affect your credit score for only one year. Practicing good credit habits, like paying your bills on time and not applying for multiple loans within a short period, can help minimize the impact of hard inquiries on your credit score.


The term Hard Inquiry is important in business and finance because it reflects an individual or organization’s credit-seeking behavior and affects their overall credit score. When a lender, such as a bank, credit card company, or loan provider, performs a hard inquiry or hard credit check, they are reviewing the applicant’s credit report to assess their creditworthiness before granting a loan, mortgage, or credit card. This process can temporarily reduce the applicant’s credit score by a few points and, depending on the number of hard inquiries made, may cause potential lenders to perceive them as high risk. Therefore, understanding the significance of hard inquiries is essential for individuals and businesses seeking credit, as it impacts their ability to secure loans or favorable interest rates.


A hard inquiry, also known as a hard credit check, serves a significant purpose in the world of finance and business. Essentially, it allows creditors and lenders to determine a potential borrower’s creditworthiness and risk profile. When a person or business applies for credit, such as a credit card, mortgage, or loan, the lender often requires this thorough assessment to decide whether to extend the credit and to establish the appropriate interest rate. Therefore, hard inquiries play a central role in the credit approval process and help safeguard lending institutions from excessive risks. Moreover, it is crucial to note that hard inquiries can temporarily impact an individual’s credit score, typically lowering it by a few points. This is because numerous hard inquiries within a short period may signify that a person could be facing financial challenges or taking on a considerable amount of debt. Consequently, lenders may perceive a heightened level of risk. Nonetheless, recent hard inquiries generally have minimal effects on one’s overall credit score and usually remain on a credit report for approximately two years. It is crucial for borrowers to be mindful of the number of hard inquiries they initiate to maintain their credit health and improve their chances of securing favorable interest rates in the future.


A hard inquiry, also known as a hard credit check, occurs when a lender checks your credit report to assess your creditworthiness before making a lending decision. This type of inquiry can have a negative impact on your credit score. Here are three real-world examples of when a hard inquiry might take place: 1. Applying for a mortgage: When you apply for a mortgage to buy a home, the lender will perform a hard inquiry to evaluate your credit history and determine whether you are a suitable candidate for the loan. This helps the lender to assess the likelihood of you paying back the loan on time and in full. 2. Applying for a car loan: If you decide to finance a vehicle purchase with an auto loan, the potential lender will conduct a hard inquiry before approving your application. Similar to a mortgage, this allows the lender to evaluate your creditworthiness, and determine the interest rate and terms of the loan based on their assessment of your credit risk. 3. Applying for a credit card: When you apply for a new credit card, the credit card issuer will perform a hard inquiry to review your credit report and credit score. This is done to help the issuer decide whether to extend credit to you and what terms and conditions, such as interest rates and credit limits, should be associated with your new credit card account.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Hard Inquiry?
A hard inquiry, also known as a hard credit check or hard pull, is a review of an individual’s credit report by a creditor or lender when they apply for credit, such as loans, mortgages, or credit cards. This process helps lenders evaluate an applicant’s creditworthiness and repayment ability.
How does a Hard Inquiry impact my credit score?
A hard inquiry can result in a temporary decrease in an individual’s credit score. A single hard inquiry could lower your credit score by a few points, and multiple inquiries in a short period may have a more significant impact. However, the effect of these inquiries lessens over time and falls off your credit report entirely after two years.
Does every credit application result in a Hard Inquiry?
Not every credit application results in a hard inquiry. Some lenders and financial institutions may conduct a soft inquiry or soft pull, which does not impact your credit score. These are usually used for preapproval processes and background credit checks done by companies.
How can I minimize the impact of Hard Inquiries on my credit score?
To minimize the impact of hard inquiries on your credit score, avoid applying for multiple credit products within a short period. Instead, space them out over a longer duration and research your options thoroughly before applying. Also, you can try preapproval processes that involve soft inquiries to gauge whether you’re likely to be approved for certain credit products.
How can I check the number of Hard Inquiries on my credit report?
You can obtain your credit report from one or more of the three major credit bureaus, namely, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These bureaus offer free credit reports once a year upon request. Once you have your credit report, you can review the “Inquiries” section to see the number of hard inquiries on your report.
Is it possible to dispute a Hard Inquiry I did not authorize?
If you find an unauthorized hard inquiry on your credit report, you have the right to dispute it. You can contact the respective credit bureau and the lender or creditor responsible for the inquiry to start the dispute process. If the inquiry is deemed unauthorized after investigation, the lender or creditor is obliged to remove it from your credit report.

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